Jan/Feb 2016 Kudos

Publications and Quality

Curtis Cooper and his team recently published in the New England Journal of Medicine. New targeted treatments have revolutionized care for hepatitis C, offering cure rates of close to 100 percent for people infected with the most common strain of the virus.  Working with an international team, they found a new pill that combines two targeted drugs can cure 95 to 100 percent of people with six different strains of the virus, including the notoriously hard-to-treat HCV-3.  This research promises not only to improve care, but also to streamline care, as all patients could potentially be treated with the same drug.

Marc Carrier has been recognized as one of two Ottawa research papers on New England Journal of Medicines top 12 list  in 2015.  Dr. Carrier found that contrary to expectations, CT scanning does not improve cancer detection in people with unexplained blood clots. According to the journal’s editor, papers chosen for this list represent “the cream of the crop, the dozen studies from 2015 that we think will have the biggest influence on medicine.”

Claire Touchie is the principal author of an article published in the 50th anniversary issue of Medical Education.  The authors explore the problems identified with CBME and the progress made.  The implementation of CBME requires a changing perspective on the outcomes for safe and effective medical care. The authors believe that  milestones and EPAs can help in developing curricula and assessments that train doctors in the qualities needed for competent practice. 

The New England Journal of Medicine, widely regarded as the top medical journal in the world, has recognized Dr. Marc Carriers research studies on its list of the top 12 studies it published in 2015. Dr. Marc Carrier, found that contrary to expectations, CT scanning does not improve cancer detection in people with unexplained blood clots.

Vladimir Contreras-Dominguez will be receiving the CAME Certificate of Merit which promotes recognizes and rewards faculty committed to medical education in Canadian medical schools.  Congratulating to Dr. Contreras-Dominguez for his commitment to medical education in Canada. 

The Heart and Stroke Foundation and the CIHR are providing $3 million to create the new Canadian Resuscitation Outcomes Consortium (CanROC). The initiative will focus on improving survival rates for cardiac arrest and trauma that occur outside of hospital. CanROC will research ways to make ordinary Canadians more aware and more willing to perform CPR, study ways to improve emergency response, and investigate new resuscitation drugs, tools, and techniques, with an aim to increase the chances of the patient making it to hospital alive. Local Co-Investigators: George Wells 

Drs. Theodore Perkins and Mitchell Sabloff and others were awarded $1M from the CIHR to learn more about a protein that’s missing from 40 percent of Acute Myeloid Leukemia (AML) patients. When AML cancer cells don’t have this protein (called PCL2), they are able to withstand the DNA-damaging effects of chemotherapy. This superpower allows them to continue to divide even with many DNA mutations, leading to a more aggressive cancer. The researchers want to see if they can use PCL2 as a biomarker to identify patients who will not respond to chemotherapy. These patients could then quickly seek other treatments for this deadly cancer, such as bone marrow transplantation or alternative therapies in clinical trials. The team will also investigate how the protein works in both healthy and AML cells, with the goal of identifying other approaches to kill the AML cells.

Marjorie Brand and her team have been awarded a grant worth $800,000 from the Canadian Institute of Health Research (CIHR) to do basic research that may lead to more targeted, efficient and less harmful treatments for T cell acute lymphoblastic leukemia (T-ALL).  T_ALL is a rare, aggressive bone marrow cancer with a survival rate of 35 percent in adults and 70 percent in children. Currently the only treatment is intense and debilitating chemotherapy, with no other option if the cancer resists or returns. Dr. Brand’s team will look at how three major subtypes of the disease work at a molecular level, identifying their weaknesses and which drugs they are vulnerable to before testing them in laboratory models. Co-Investigators: Jeffrey Dilworth, Theodore Perkins.

Guy Ungerechts has been awarded $450,000 from the Terry Fox Research Institute, through their New Investigator program. Dr. Ungerechts recently joined TOH and is working closely with Dr. John Bell to develop viruses that stimulate the immune system to attack cancer, as well as killing cancer cells directly. Dr. Ungerechts and the team are looking to develop a cancer vaccine by pairing the measles and Maraba viruses. “It will be the very first time that two oncolytic (cancer-killing) replicating viruses will be combined,” said Dr. Guy Ungerechts.  Dr. Ungerechts is also receiving funding from the Ontario Institute for Cancer Research and the Ottawa Hospital Foundation.

Over the last several years, Dr. Lynn Megeney and his team have discovered that muscle stem cells have a strange way of giving rise to new muscle fibres. They turn on scissor-like proteins that cut up other proteins and strands of DNA. Usually this would demolish the cell, but in this case, the cuts actually serve to “turn on” certain regions of DNA that are important for muscle development. The catch is that the DNA needs to be repaired very quickly, before it causes problems. Now, Dr. Megeney and his colleagues have identified the master repair man – the Mike Holmes of muscle stem cells. It is a protein called X-ray cross-complementing protein 1 (XRCC1), which is also known to repair some other kinds of DNA damage. See Nature Cell Discovery or the Kuwait Times for details. Authors: R.A. Bell, R.J. Parks, M.A. Rudnicki, F.J. Dilworth, L.A. Megeney

Duncan Stewart received Hypertension Canada‘s Senior Investigator Award Lecture. In receiving the award at the Canadian Hypertension Congress, he gave a lecture titled “From biology to breakthroughs for the other kind of hypertension”.


Marc Carrier was interviewed by the Ottawa Business Journal about “research that helps real people, every day.”

Raphael Saginur was interviewed on CBC Radio Ottawa’s All in a Day about the importance of clinical research and clinical trial safety, in light of severe adverse events that recently occurred in a Phase I clinical trial in France (not available online).

Susan Dent was interviewed live on CBC TV Ottawa about the state of cancer care and research in Ottawa. She highlighted The Ottawa Hospital Cancer Centre’s leadership in conducting clinical trials of targeted new therapies, and also touched on research on radiation, surgery, cancer prevention and other areas.

David Stewart participated in a full-day public discussion on “Breaking the mold: rethinking the cancer system”, presented by the Ontario Institute for Cancer Research and MaRS Discovery District.

Michael Rudnicki was interviewed by the Globe and Mail for a story about harnessing the power of ‘brown’ fat to combat obesity.


Weekly Research News – From The Ottawa Hospital, affiliated with the University of Ottawa

A number of our cancer researchers participated in public events and interviews for World Cancer Day on February 4th.  Drs. Duncan Stewart, Dar Dowlatshahi and others answered patient questions about stroke and stem cells in a new video from the Heart and Stroke Foundation Canadian Partnership for Stroke Recovery. The video describes the need for further research in Canada and raises concerns about stem cell trials in some parts of the world.